Drywall Boom and Busted

Imagine calling the AC repair guy out to your showcase home in Florida and having him tell you the problem may be a lot bigger than you think.

That is what happened recently to my friend's sister. The air conditioner's copper tubing was corroded, and the tech recognized it as a result of Chinese-manufactured dry wall. I suppose you could say she was lucky because someone alerted the family to the problem before anyone got sick. Others in similar situations have reported irritated, itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks. None of these symptoms may seem that bad until you realize that they occurred at home.

According to an EPA analysis, a small sampling of Chinese dry wall contained sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint that the U.S. dry wall samples did not. The imported product also had higher levels of strontium.

Because this problem is in its infancy (The Consumer Product Safety Commission began receiving reports in December 2008), there's not a worn path to follow on how to manage it. Legislators are talking, and lawyers are busy gathering clients against homebuilders and suppliers. In the meantime, what's a homeowner to do?

A few options have been offered:

Remove the dry wall and replace it (some organizations warn that you may be destroying evidence); sell the house to someone who could demolish it and start again; or leave it.

Do you think some manufacturers felt this way when they abandoned their property and clean-up responsibility because the problem was just too big for them to handle? I wonder how we will dispose of this construction waste.

By the way, the Chinese government, through the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said it was concerned about the reports and would try to find the cause, according to an April report in China Daily.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Sep 10, 2009


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